Massive cyclone hits Vanuatu

Disaster
by Mickey McLean
Posted 3/14/15, 10:09 am

Cyclone Pam, with winds up to 168 miles per hour, struck the tiny South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu early Saturday, leaving a trail of destruction and unconfirmed reports of dozens of deaths.

Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer in the capital city of Port Vila said that authorities did a good job Friday night moving people into shelters. “I can say that for anybody who wasn’t in a secure shelter last night, it would have been a very, very tough time for them,” she said.

Because of power outages and severe damage to homes, many were forced to go back to a shelter for a second night. Morrison said that fallen trees and downed power lines have made many areas hazardous and that she has heard reports of some remote villages being completely destroyed.

“It’s still really quite dangerous outside,” she said. “Most people are still hunkering down.”

Morrison said that because of communication problems caused by the storm World Vision had not yet been able to account for many of its own 76 staff members on the islands.

Vanuatu, located about a quarter of the way from Australia to Hawaii, has a population of 267,000 spread over 65 islands. About 47,000 people live in the capital.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mickey McLean

Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital.

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